Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available to disabled individuals under the age of 65 who have earned a certain number of “work credits” by participating in the workforce. SSDI provides eligible claimants with monthly benefits that the recipient can use to help cover living expenses such as groceries, utilities, and transportation.
Unfortunately, the process of qualifying for SSDI can be arduous, and many claims will initially be denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Often, claimants make simple mistakes like forgetting to attach documentation or provide important details about their case. While some mistakes can be corrected later, others might be harder to fix, and a lawyer can help you file an appeal if your application is denied. The odds of succeeding can be daunting, but hiring a skilled lawyer might be the difference between being approved the first time and filing countless appeals.
With persistence, proper documentation, and aggressive legal assistance from an experienced Fayetteville, AR disability lawyer, your likelihood of being approved for SSDI in Arkansas will increase significantly. For a free case review, call our offices at (479) 316-0438.
Who Qualifies for SSDI Benefits in Arkansas?
In order to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Arkansas, the applicant or claimant will need to meet a few basic criteria established by the SSA:
- You must have earned a sufficient number of work credits by working in occupations that are covered by Social Security. The number of work credits you need is determined by how old you were when you became disabled. With some exceptions for young people, the SSA typically requires at least 40 work credits, 20 of which must have been earned during the 10-year period preceding your disability.
- You must be considered “severely” disabled by the SSA. For many people, proving this fact is the most difficult part of the process. The SSA has very strict criteria and will only categorize you as “disabled” if all of the following points are true:
- You are unable to perform the work you were performing before you became disabled.
- You are also unable to perform other types of work due to the nature of your disability.
- The disability is long-term, meaning it is expected to either (1) last for a duration of at least one year or (2) result in death.
Applying for SSDI Benefits in Arkansas
Applying for SSDI benefits in Arkansas sounds like a simple process on paper, but it can be more complicated than many people realize. Although filling out an application does not necessarily take very long, the information you must submit is extremely sensitive and important. Simple mistakes or omissions could cost an applicant much-needed benefits. Our Bella Vista disability benefits attorneys can walk you through the process so you can get the benefits you need.
There are multiple ways in which a person can apply for SSDI benefits. Forms can be found online and submitted over the internet, making the application process very quick. Before you sit down to fill out the application, you must make sure you have all the necessary information.
First, you need information about yourself. This is mostly information and documents to help the SSA properly identify you and ensure the right person is receiving benefits. You will need your date and place of birth, Social Security number, and the same information about your spouse (current and former) and any children you have. You will also need to submit information about your bank, so money can be deposited directly into your account if approved.
Next, you need information about your condition. The SSA will want this information directly from your doctor, so you may need to provide contact information about who has been treating you. You must also provide detailed information and documentation about your injuries, condition, or illness. This includes information about any medicine you take, treatments you receive, and doctors you see.
Compiling medical information is often difficult, as it tends to be complicated. It may be even more difficult for applicants with lengthy medical records, such as those dealing with lifelong conditions. A lawyer can help you figure out what information should be submitted. You should also consult your doctor before submitting your application to ensure you have all the correct information.
Finally, you have to provide information about your work. Since SSDI benefits are based on an applicant’s work history, the SSA needs information about where you worked, how long you were working, and your income. This includes any time you spent in active military service.
Remember, your potential SSDI benefits are calculated based on your average income during your working years. Your work history must be as detailed and accurate as possible to ensure you get the maximum benefit. Combing through work history can be difficult, and our Bentonville disability benefits attorneys can help you.
How Long Does the Application Process Take for SSDI Benefits in Arkansas
How long it takes to submit your application depends on the unique factors of your situation. It can be tempting to fill out what you know and send off your application as quickly as possible so you can start receiving benefits quickly. However, it is best to speak with our Johnson disability benefits lawyers and take your time filling everything out.
It might take longer to submit your application if you cannot locate important documents. For example, if you do not know your Social Security number and cannot find your Social Security card, we may need to contact the SSA about getting those details. Similarly, missing medical records can slow down the application process and make the whole thing more difficult.
To speed up the process, work with your attorney and prepare all documents and information before you sit down to fill out the necessary forms. If you are unsure where to find certain information about your case, your lawyer should know where to find it.
Regardless of how quickly you can turn in your paperwork, SSDI uses a 5-month mandatory waiting period.
Should I Hire an Attorney to Help Me Apply for SSDI Benefits in Arkansas?
Although the SSA does not require SSDI applicants to be represented by an attorney, it is a good idea to speak to an attorney about your case before you submit your application. Your lawyer can help you speed up the application process while also helping you to avoid mistakes. Our Arkansas disability benefits lawyers have the skills and experience to help you apply for SSDI benefits quickly and efficiently.
Part of what makes applying for SSDI benefits challenging is that small mistakes could have big consequences. Forgetting to attach certain medical records or documentation could result in your application being sent back or even rejected. A lawyer who has experience with these kinds of applications would know if anything is missing before you submit it. As discussed below, many applications are denied not because the applicant does not qualify but because they forgot to include important information.
What to Do if Your SSDI Benefits Application in Arkansas is Denied
If your application is denied, our Arkansas disability attorneys can help you begin the appeals process and hopefully get your application approved. The first step in the appeals process is called reconsideration. At this stage, we ask the SSA to review your application again and reconsider its decisions. We can also supply any missing information or remedy any other problems with the application.
If a reconsideration is unsuccessful, we can have a hearing with an administrative law judge. The judge at your hearing would not have had any part in the original denial of the application and is impartial. The hearing is a good opportunity to present our case to a real person rather than submit forms and paperwork to a faceless institution.
If the hearing is unsuccessful, we can request a review by an appeals council. The council will review the hearing with the administrative law judge and determine if the hearing outcome is in line with the SSA’s laws and regulations. Whether or not you qualify or deserve benefits is not determined here.
The last-ditch effort to approve your application is to have a federal court review the case. At this point, it might be very difficult to convince the court that your application was wrongly denied. Even so, our legal team can help you fight to the end for the benefits you need and deserve.
Social Security Disability Denial Rates at Each Stage of the Application Process
The process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits involves several stages, depending on whether and how often your claim is denied. Depending on how many times you need to appeal (challenge the denial), the Arkansas SSDI application process may involve the following steps:
- Initial Application
- Request for Reconsideration
- Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing
- Appeals Council Review
- Federal Court
Each stage has a different denial rate, meaning you are more likely to be approved at certain stages than others. Speaking generally, claims are likely to be initially rejected, and even more likely to be denied at the second (Reconsideration) stage. However, while the first two stages of the process have poor approval rates, many claims are approved at the third (ALJ Hearing) stage or thereafter. Simply take a look at the following SSDI denial rate statistics supplied by the SSA, which are based on national data from 2010:
Stage 1 – Initial Application Level
- Total Claims – 1,957,275
- Total Allowances – 710,732
- Approval Rate – 36.3%
- Denial Rate – 63.7%
As you can see from these statistics, slightly over one third of all SSDI claims are approved at the outset of the process with no further action necessary. However, that still leaves about two in three claimants who will need to take their claim to the next level: Reconsideration.
Stage 2 – Reconsideration Level
- Total Claims – 614,683
- Total Allowances – 49,971
- Approval Rate – 8.1%
- Denial Rate – 91.9%
As the figures show, it is even more difficult to get a claim approved at the Reconsideration level, with only about one in ten claims approved at this phase of the process. Fortunately, many claimants will find that Reconsideration is the toughest stage of the process. After Reconsideration, approval rates tend to improve significantly, as the following statistics indicate:
Stage 3 (and Above) – ALJ Hearing Level (and Above)
- Total Claims – 111,650
- Total Allowances – 84,989
- Approval Rate – 76.1%
- Denial Rate – 23.9%
Nationwide, as many as approximately three quarters of claims are approved at the ALJ Hearing or later steps of the process, an encouraging increase from the low rates observed at Reconsideration and initial application.
The foregoing figures are based on national data. In Arkansas (and indeed every state), rates are slightly different. While estimates vary, the SSDI approval and denial rates in Arkansas are approximately:
- Approval Rate – 30.3%
- Denial Rate – 69.7%
Request for Reconsideration
- Approval Rate – 8.7%
- Denial Rate – 91.3%
- Approval Rate – 49.6%
- Denial Rate – 50.4%
Our Fayetteville SSDI Lawyers Can Help You File for Disability Benefits in Arkansas
To talk about your SSDI claim in a free and confidential case evaluation with a Fort Smith SSDI lawyer, a Rogers SSDI attorney, or a Springdale SSDI lawyer, contact our Arkansas disability benefits attorneys at (479) 316-0438. Our law firm also serves Bentonville, Bella Vista, and beyond.
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